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Californios, Anglos, and the Performance of Oligarchy in the U.S. West

Californios, Anglos, and the Performance of Oligarchy in the U.S. West

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Andrew Gibb


E-book (Other formats: Paperback)
22 illustrations

Theater in the Americas


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About the Book

In Californios, Anglos, and the Performance of Oligarchy in the U.S. West, author Andrew Gibb argues that the mid-nineteenth-century encounter between Anglos and californios— the Spanish-speaking elites who ruled Mexican California between 1821 and 1848—resulted not only in the Americanization of California but also the “Mexicanization” of Americans. Employing performance studies methodologies in his analysis of everyday and historical events, Gibb traces how oligarchy evolved and developed in the region.
This interdisciplinary study draws on performance studies, theatre historiography, and New Western History to identify how the unique power relations of historical California were constituted and perpetuated through public performances—not only traditional theatrical productions but also social events such as elite weddings and community dances—and historical events like the U.S. seizure of the city of Monterey, the feting of Commodore Stockton in San Francisco, and the Bear Flag Revolt.


Andrew Gibb is an assistant professor of theatre history, theory, and criticism at Texas Tech University. He has published work in Theatre History Studies, Theatre Symposium, Comparative Drama, the Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, the Latin American Theatre Review, Texas Theatre Journal, and the edited collection Querying Difference in Theatre History.


“As a study of performances of oligarchy, this is an engaging book with beautifully written accounts of both Californios and Anglos publicly asserting their clout in surprisingly varied ways.”—Dana Elizabeth Weiner, Louisiana History

"Andrew Gibb offers an important revision of modern understandings of the U.S. West,particularly California. . . . This book draws heavily on theory, particularly the idea of performance, to demonstrate how public events both celebrate and proclaim the power of the oligarchy. This allows the author to focus on cooperation (theater, after all, is collaborative) and deemphasize a more traditional conflict paradigm. . . .[T]his thought-provoking piece of interdisciplinary scholarship should be read by specialists in theater history, western history, and Mexican history."—Evan C. Rothera, Civil War Book Review

“Limited neither by a narrow focus on gold rush California nor a view of California theatre as a mere extension of the theatre of Mexico City, Andrew Gibb meticulously and cogently argues the history of a cultural collaboration, mediated not by conflict but by performance. This is theatre culture at its most persuasive, revealing the social, political, and economic factors at play in a given moment of historical change.”—Rosemarie Bank, author, Theatre Culture in America, 1825–1860

“Gibb’s work deftly challenges the long held notion that californio culture simply gave way to Anglo ascendancy when the United States took possession of the geography in the mid-nineteenth century. The result is a crucial contribution to our understanding of U.S. history, Western historiography, and Latinx history in (what would become) the United States.”—Lisa Jackson-Schebetta, author of Traveler, There Is No Road: Theatre, the Spanish Civil War, and the Decolonial Imagination in the Americas